Yes, I call this Jane’s Macaroni and Cheese as I have made it so many times, and tweaked it each time.. It’s now been perfected 🙂
Make it the day before you need it – and just put it in the refrigerator til it’s time to bake. For some reason it turns out better this way..
8 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tablespoons, plus 1 tablespoon
8 tablespoons flour
5 cups half and half (I use fat free-you cannot tell the difference!)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon Red Hot Sauce
10 1/2 ounces fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or other good-quality parmesan cheese (about 3 cups) – I use the microplanar to grate it really fine so it makes a good bechamel sauce…
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
6 ounces grated cheddar cheese
6 ounces grated fontina cheese
6 ounces grated gruyere cheese
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
In a heavy, medium saucepan melt 8 tablespoons of the butter over low heat.
Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the half and half little by little.
Cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, season with the salt, pepper, hot sauce and 6 ounces of the grated parmesan. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Cover and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt to taste and, while stirring, add the macaroni. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until macaroni is very al dente (slightly undercooked). Drain in a colander and return the macaroni to the pot. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the garlic and stir to combine. Add the bechamel sauce and stir until well combined. Set aside.
Using the remaining tablespoon of butter, grease a 3-quart baking dish or casserole and set aside.
In a large bowl combine 4 ounces of the remaining parmesan cheese, cheddar, fontina and gruyere cheeses. Toss to combine.
Place one-third of the macaroni in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Top with one-third of the mixed cheeses. Top with another third of the macaroni and another third of the cheese mixture. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and cheese mixture. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, remaining 1/2 ounce of grated parmesan, and the creole seasoning and toss to combine.
Sprinkle this over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the macaroni and cheese is bubbly and hot and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
The picture is a 1/2 of the regular recipe – as when I’m making a huge dinner for the holidays, I only make 1/2 it as it’s too much to eat! However, when I take it to a pot luck, I make a full order, and the baking dish is always scraped clean 🙂